As retailers reopen and take stock of new post-pandemic consumer dynamics, the role of industry trade groups is changing. Groups like the National Retail Federation (NRF) focused more on economic forecasts and supply chain issues as other advocacy groups that have taken the fight for more stimulus dollars to Washington, D.C. Now a new consortium of retail groups has joined forces to advocate for what it calls “tier 3” retailers and suppliers.
The consortium is made up of GMDC’s Retail Tomorrow, the International Housewares Association and the National Grocers Association (NGA). The group has not announced any formal ties but it has issued an open letter to their members and the retail industry at large urging them to include non-essential retail in their advocacy efforts and communications.
While “certain segments and categories within the retail industry are rising to the challenge of meeting sudden shifts in consumer needs — such as grocery, household cleaning supplies and personal care products — others are getting left behind, particularly smaller suppliers in non-essential categories,” the letter reads. “As we attend to the immediate needs of the consumer, we must also protect the future of our industry to ensure there is a diverse pipeline of non-essential products for consumers as needs stabilize again. Indeed, many of these non-essential products are needed now more than ever and remain necessary for all who have been subject to the shelter-in-place/safer-at-home orders. As consumers seek more comfort and home improvement, we are seeing a renewed focus on non-essential products — such as hair trimmers/shavers, toaster ovens and pet products — that is even greater than the resurgence following the last recession.”
The group is focused on uniting for the benefit of Tier 3 retailers and suppliers of non-essential goods. It has created resource materials to communicate widespread support for this group.
“Commit to seeking out the companies, products, innovators and start-ups that will deliver the next generation of consumer solutions in a post-COVID-19 environment,” the letter urges. “We’re enabling virtual strategic product demonstrations to connect supplier and retailer decision makers. Using our insight tools, services and solutions offerings, help to educate consumers on the ways they can support the smaller suppliers who proudly uphold American jobs and are giving back to the community (even during their own time of need). We’re providing in-store tactics toolkits to help retailers translate this effort into sales.”
Meanwhile the NRF has put out a cautiously optimistic new report on supply chain issues. It has found a positive import situation based on its Global Port Tracker. It found that the glut of product due to the pandemic U.S. retail container ports appears to be easing. Projected imports remain below last year’s levels but not as much as previously forecast.
“The numbers we’re seeing are still below last year, but are better than what we expected a month ago,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “It may still be too soon to say but we’ll take that as a sign that the situation could be slowly starting to improve. Consumers want to get back to shopping, and as more people get back to work, retailers want to be sure their shelves are stocked.”